Westchester Elder Law Attorney Anthony Enea Explains Why Not All Powers of Attorney Are Created Equal

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On March 16, Westchester elder law attorney Anthony J. Enea of Enea, Scanlan & Sirignano, LLP in White Plains and Somers, N.Y. will address the importance of an effectively drafted power of attorney in an educational program to the Mount Vernon Bar Association. With millions of baby boomers coming of age, Mr. Enea urges those in or approaching their elder years to closely examine the language contained in their power of attorney to ensure it’s sufficiently broad.

Elder law attorney Anthony J. Enea, managing partner at Enea, Scanlan & Sirignano, LLP

Since a power of attorney is, like many legal documents, a standardized form created by statute, the natural tendency is to assume that they are all the same and contain identical provisions. This, however, is often an incorrect and dangerous assumption.

On March 16, Westchester elder law attorney Anthony J. Enea of Enea, Scanlan & Sirignano, LLP in White Plains and Somers, N.Y. will address the importance of an effectively drafted power of attorney in an educational program to the Mount Vernon Bar Association. With millions of baby boomers coming of age, Mr. Enea urges those in or approaching their elder years to closely examine the language contained in their power of attorney to ensure it’s sufficiently broad.

“Since a power of attorney is, like many legal documents, a standardized form created by statute, the natural tendency is to assume that they are all the same and contain identical provisions,” said Anthony Enea, who has spent three decades protecting the rights of seniors, the disabled and their families. “This, however, is often an incorrect and dangerous assumption.”

A power of attorney is an extremely important document, especially if there are issues regarding one’s health and mental capacity. If the power of attorney is “durable,” the agent will be able to act even if the principal is subsequently disabled or incapacitated. The actions an agent can undertake, however, are controlled by the explicit terms of the power of attorney -- making close examination of the document’s language necessary. For example, the agent’s ability to gift/transfer the assets to himself and/or others is only permitted in New York if the power of attorney specifically grants the agent the authority to do so.

“It is not at all uncommon for a client to believe that he or she has executed a power of attorney with broad gifting power. Once the document is closely examined, however, it is often revealed that it does not allow the agent to make gifts in amounts in excess of $14,000 per person per year. The failure to include broad gifting authority can also result in the agent not being able to make the transfers necessary for the principal to be eligible for Medicaid (home care and/or nursing home) and/or reduce potential estate tax liability,” explained Enea.

It is important to include any powers deemed prudent beyond the statutory powers found on most power of attorney forms. For example, a broadly drafted power of attorney could include language that permits the agent to create either a revocable and/or irrevocable trust on behalf of the principal. This is a power that can be of significant value for both estate planning and long-term care planning, in many cases savings of hundreds of thousands of dollars.    

Named Westchester County’s Leading Elder Care Attorney at the Above the Bar Awards, Anthony Enea is president of the Westchester County Bar Foundation and past chair of the New York State Bar Association’s Elder Law Section. His practice areas include elder law; Medicaid asset protection trusts; Medicaid applications (home care and nursing home); special needs planning; guardianships (Article 81 and 17-A); and wills, trusts and estates. Enea was named Best Lawyers’ 2017 Trusts & Estates “Lawyer of the Year” in White Plains and recently received the Honorable Richard J. Daronco Distinguished Service Award from the Columbian Lawyers Association of Westchester County and the Dr. Joseph A. Cimino Community Service Award at ArchCare at Home's 2016 Hope Gala.

Enea, Scanlan & Sirignano, LLP is located at 245 Main Street in White Plains, N.Y. with additional offices in Somers, N.Y. Elder law attorney Anthony J. Enea can be reached at 914-948-1500 or a.enea(at)esslawfirm(dot)com. For the latest news, visit Enea, Scanlan & Sirignano online at http://www.esslawfirm.com.

About Enea, Scanlan & Sirignano, LLP
Enea, Scanlan & Sirignano, LLP is an AV preeminent rated elder law firm with offices in White Plains and Somers, N.Y. The practice concentrates on Elder Law; Medicaid Planning; Nursing Home and Home Care Applications; Wills, Trusts and Estates; Guardianships; Estate Litigation; Supplemental Needs Trusts; and Special Needs Planning. Enea, Scanlan & Sirignano, LLP serves Westchester, Rockland, Putnam, the Bronx, Manhattan, Long Island and Queens and is committed to providing the highest quality legal services to seniors, the disabled and their families.

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